A push is now on by a group junior high parents in Pauls Valley hoping to make some changes to a special reading program they feel is just too much for many students.

Those parents believe so strongly in the need for change they’ve established an Internet website that pushes for it by way of a school initiative petition.

The target of the petition, seen on the site www.toomuchreading.com, is the local Accelerated Reader (AR) program.

One of those parents is Melissa Nation, former member of the local school board who also has a son in the seventh grade.

“There’s a group of us, but I guess you could call me the ring leader,” Nation said.

“There’s a pretty good group of us who have talked and talked and complained to each other. So we decided to do something about it,” she said.

According to the website, parents involved in the effort want what they describe as “reasonable changes” by cutting the number of the program’s required points by half.

Even though the AR program is meant to encourage recreational reading and improve test scores, petition parents believe the current program requirements impose an undue burden on students and even their parents.

“I’m a big academics person, but I also think you can over do stuff,” Nation said

“We’re getting a lot of feedback from the students who are saying, ‘Yes, we need help.’”

The website shows the parents are in favor of encouraging reading for pleasure and even requiring a certain amount of reading.

“We just think the current requirements are simply overwhelming for many students,” they stated on the site.

“We believe that the program is a good program that needs some adjustment with parental input. Our goal is simply to produce reasonable changes within the program.”

The website proponents state it was created to provide a way for parental voices to be heard by PV school administrators.

The way to do that, they say, is parents and students alike can sign the petition, contact PV Board of Education members and Superintendent Bobby Russell and attend the school board meeting when the petition is eventually presented on the merits of their request for change.

An example provided on the website is a seventh grade student has 120 points required within the AR program during the year, which measures out to 30 points per nine-week period. The student has an average book value of 4 points per book and a 75 percent average test score.

According to the example, this student is then required to read 10 books per nine weeks or 40 books per nine-month school year.

Parents are quick to stress this is above and beyond typically assigned classwork and homework.

Website parents state a progress grade is given in the middle of a nine-week period, resulting in a test grade of either 100 or zero depending on whether the student has reached 50 percent of the AR reading goal. This, they say, is discouraging to students.

A number of other points to consider were also given on the website, such as required reading increases about four-fold from sixth to seventh grades.

Parents pushing for change believe the increased “forced” reading does not make students lifetime readers but can instead have the opposite effect.

They also believe the current system encourages students to cheat by having other students take tests or push them to not do well on tests so the number of points required does not increase.

“Due to this reading burden students are routinely unable to participate in their family or church activities,” they stated on the website.

“We are simply trying to remove some of the pressure so (students) can be a part of other school activities and have more time for homework and (their) family.”

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